Kolkata, May 6 : Amidst sporadic violence, particularly in Barrackpur, an estimated 34 per cent of 1,16,91,889 electorate exercised their franchise in the first three hours till noon on Monday to decide the fate of 83 candidates in the fifth of the seven-phase election to seven South Bengal Lok Sabha seats of Bangaon, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Arambag. While Hooghly accounted for 33.55 per cent so far, Sreerampur registered 36.84, Arambag 34.98, Howrah 31.45, Uluberia 36.07, Bongaon 31.38 and Barrackpore 30.03 per cent votes.
In booth number 116 in West Bengal’s Bijpur under Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency, some voters cast their votes for a second time since polling in the morning had to be cancelled after voting started without deletion of the 86 votes recorded during the mock poll. According to the rules, a repoll should be ordered here, said political analysts and no one — presiding officer, sector officer, returning officer — can take a decision to recall voters from their homes to cast their votes for a second time.
Arjun Singh, BJP candidate from Barrackpore alleged that he was attacked by TMC workers. He said: "I was attacked by TMC goons who have been brought from outside. Those people were scaring away our voters. I am injured." Hundreds of TMC supporters blocked BJP candidate Arjun Singh's car at Naihati's Vijaynagar and raised 'Arjun Singh Go Back' slogans. Sensing security concern, Arjun Singh's car took a U-turn and left the spot. In 110 booth of Naskarpur in Tarakeswar under West Bengal’s Arambag constituency, a man was seen directing the voters as they entered to booth to press the first button in the EVM in favour of the TMC candidate.
He was also seen stepping into the voting cell to check whether the voter was doing according to his instructions. EC has removed the presiding officer of Booth Number 110 of Nashkarpur village under Talpur anchal of Tarakeshwar. This was done after a Trinamool local leader Maharaja Nag accompanied a voter up to the EVM and pressed the button instead of the voter. The incident happened in Arambagh Lok Sabha seat.
EVM malfunction reported at three booths in Salkia area of Howrah. Voting is yet to start at Kedarnath Rajgaria Girls School premises although 2 hours 45 minutes have passed since scheduled commencement. Poll officials say they need more time to repair the machines. BJP candidate from Hooghly, Locket Chatterjee exchanged heated words with TMC supporters over alleged false voting in her constituency.
The Election Commission has sought a report on the alleged violence at Mohanpur booth (241) under Barrackpur Lok Sabha constituency, where BJP candidate Arjun Singh sustained minor injuries in a scuffle.
It was alleged that while escorting his polling agent to the booth, he was challenged by the Trinamool activists resulting in a scuffle in which Mr Singh sustained injuries.
Later, the Central forces brought the situation under control. A woman alleged that her son was threatened for life by the TMC workers. Tension also ran high at Barrackpore and Kakinara where unidentified miscreants hurled bombs. Reports of tension among the voters poured in from Gaighata under Bongaon LS seat where BJP supporters allegedly attacked a house of TMC activist at Kharermath and a bike was torched. However, the BJP denied it.
Reports of malfunctioning of EVMs poured in from several booths under Sreerampur Lok Sabha constituency. Hooghly BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee alleged that the Trinamool activists have prevented her party agent from entering a booth at Mallickpur. She expressed dissatisfaction over the Election Commission and deployment of central forces at Mallickpur's 232 booth. Ms Chatterjee alleged that some TMC activists in the guise of agents of some independent candidates indulged in false voting in the said booth. She told media persons that despite her protests, no official from election commission and central forces took action. She alleged that despite calling the EC officials on phone they did not respond.
Even the central forces were not seen in and around the booth. However, TMC candidate Dinesh Trivedi said voting was peaceful under the Commission and the watchful eyes of Central forces. Meanwhile, BJP candidate from Bongaon Santanu Thakur, who sustained head wounds while campaigning on Saturday, today alleged he was targetted by the TMC, which was denied by the ruling party. The EC is also keeping a vigil on the industrial belt of Barrackpore, where former TMC leader Arjun Singh is contesting the seat against incumbent and TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi. About 660 companies of Central Armed Forces have been deployed in seven seats spreading three districts of South Bengal. Besides, another 50 companies have already moved to other places where the sixth and penultimate phase polling will take place on May 12 in eight seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress (AITC), Indian National Congress (INC) and the Left Front have fielded their candidates in all the seven constituencies.
Prominent among those contesting the fifth phase Lok Sabha election are former railway minister and sitting TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi from Barrackpur, sitting MP Sajda Ahmed wife of late former Union minister Sultan Ahmed, veteran Bengali actor-cum-BJP candidate Joy Banerjee from Uluberia, actor-cum-BJP leader Locket Chatterjee and sitting TMC MP Dr Ratna De Nag from Hooghly, lawyer-cum-sitting TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee from Sreerampore, former Indian football captain-cum-sitting TMC MP Prasun Banerjee from Howrah and TMC’s sitting MP Aparupa Poddar from Arambag.